The Policy Project

As part of our efforts to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the local, state, and federal education policy context, Ed’s Strategy Team launched The Policy Project in Fall of 2018. The topics we cover have been and will continue to be selected considering input from families, residents, educators, local leaders, and more. Each analysis includes an overview of the current Alabama education policy application and the exploration of effective practice across the country. The release of a select number of reports and briefs will be accompanied by a series of public forums we call Ed Chats. Each Chat will be hosted and moderated by community leaders and include a short overview of contemporary research, small-group conversations, and a full-group debrief.  At each event, participants will be joined by special guests with a particular interest in and/or experience with the Chat topic to engage in discussions, both as participants and as learners.

School Discipline & Restorative Justice

Nationwide, K-12 schools demonstrate a disparity in out-of-school disciplinary practices that disproportionately affect students of color.  When students are removed from school through suspensions and expulsions, the loss of class time often compounds issues that remain unresolved. Restorative Justice is a philosophy that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by misbehavior by bringing together all affected persons to understand why the incident occurred and how to prevent it from happening again – usually without removing the offending student from school.
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Brief Full-Length Report

Data Transparency & Accessibility

Over the past twenty years, Alabama’s NAEP scores have long been near the bottom of the pack – significantly below the national averages for public schools.  While Alabama has made progress with NAEP results, this progress has not outpaced the rest of the country and long-term trends indicate that the state’s achievement gaps persist for students of color and students living in poverty.  In order to create better schools, teachers, administrators, district leaders, and policymakers need to have access to timely and accessible data to determine what instructional methods, curriculum, and initiatives are effectively working and what’s not.  Parents and families also deserve more information – understandable, accessible, transparent information – about the schools their children are attending. Increased school data transparency and accessibility in Alabama would allow stakeholders at all levels — families, teachers, school administrators, district leaders, and policymakers — to make better-informed decisions in our public education system.
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Brief Full-Length Report

Teacher Residencies & ‘Grow Your Own’ Talent Programs

Current indicators for the health of the US teacher workforce are worrisome. Undergraduate enrollment in education programs nationwide is down dramatically, with just 4.6% of 2017 college freshmen planning to pursue an education degree. Rural and high-needs districts increasingly struggle to fill vacancies in STEM, foreign language and career tech positions. In addition, annual teacher attrition rates hover at 8%, with 17% of all new teachers leaving the profession in the first five years. National and state policymakers from every state have been forced to acknowledge a difficult reality: there are a number of critical fissures in the nation’s current teacher pipeline. Though these “leaks” are certainly attributable to a host of factors, including difficult working conditions, competition for talent and stagnant wage and career growth opportunities, the diminished health of the teaching profession is also attributable, in part, to a less-discussed but more obvious factor: the state of teacher preparation programs.  As states and local school districts seek to build a more robust and reliable 21st century teacher workforce, strengthening teacher preparation programs should be central to their efforts. Our research on Teacher Residencies and “Grow Your Own” Programs explore two potential policy solutions to this critical challenge.

Brief Full-Length Report

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